“The vision of Isaiah, the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and
Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of
to be strong, courageous; Judah, he shall be praised; Jerusalem,
dual peace shall be taught: lay (set) ye double peace; Uzziah, my
strength is Jehovah; Jotham, Jehovah is perfect; Ahaz,
possessor; Hezekiah, strengthened of Jehovah.
of biblical names frequently shed light on the meaning of the passages where
they occur, but such doesn’t appear to be so in the present instance.
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken: I have
nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.”
and earth are called upon to attend to the Lord’s complaint against rebel
Israel, a people whom He had nurtured as a loving father does his children,
their recompense of His kindness being blatant rebellion against Him; but
even a cursory reading of Scripture reveals that Israel is representative of
the human race, and no one can dispute that her revolt has been duplicated
by every nation and every individual, beginning with Adam whose folly
brought sin into the world, and a curse upon all his descendants, for “all
have sinned,” Romans 3:23.
“The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass, his master’s crib, but Israel doth
not know; my people doth not consider.”
Even the ox
and ass know their owners who care for them and provide their food and
shelter, but ungrateful Israel refused to even acknowledge God as their
Creator and Provider. They never gave Him a thought. Nor has it ever been
different. Men still refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon God, not
only for their daily needs, but for the very breath they draw. They live as
though He didn’t exist, the empty ritual which Christendom calls worship
being nothing more than a humanly contrived religious form which gratifies
the flesh and glorifies man, but which insults God.
“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers,
children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have
provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.”
Israel had become is declared in their being described as sinful, “laden
with iniquity,” i.e., bowed down under a ponderous weight of moral evil;
their being called corrupters meaning literally that they were as a putrid
carcase defiling everything that came in contact with them.
“a seed of
evildoers ... corrupters” means that they came from a long line of equally
degenerate ancestors stretching all the way back to Adam who first brought
sin into the world, and that they themselves would also transmit the
contagion to succeeding generations. And their vile state was not because
God had abandoned them, but because they had forsaken Him, and had then
proceeded to provoke His righteous anger by their ever increasing evildoing.
“Why should ye be
stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and
the whole heart faint.”
hadn’t compelled them to forsake their evil ways, so God asks rhetorically
what good would be accomplished by continued correction. Nothing would
induce them to abandon the path of folly. They were bent on rebellion, and
would not be turned aside.
speaks of the intellect, as the heart does of the emotions, and man in the
days of Moses was just as vile as in the days of Noah, relative to which it
is written, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth,
and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil
continually,” Genesis 6:5. “Sick” in the present context means diseased;
and “faint,” is related to the uncleanness associated with menstruation.
Israel had become utterly vile, but since she represents the whole human
race, the description applies also to twenty-first century man in spite of
all his education, ingenuity, and sophistication.
“From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it;
but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: that have not been closed,
neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.”
means “running.” It would be difficult to imagine a more loathsome sight,
yet this is how God saw Israel then, and how He sees humanity today.
Western society’s blindness to its moral filthiness is disclosed in its
failure to recognize that many so-called “heathen” nations are revolted by
the sex and virtual nudity that mark not only the entertainment industry,
but much of our normal life-style.
The failure to
close, bind up or mollify the filthy sores points to the brazenness with
which sin is practiced in today’s society.
“Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land,
strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate as overthrown by
here means devastated, burned with fire, become a desert, lies in ruins.
When first given to them, that country, Canaan, merited the description
“flowing with milk and honey,” but their flagrant disobedience had caused
God to withhold the rain, to send blight, locusts, and mildew, and to give
it over to Israel’s enemies. Only willfully blind eyes will fail to see in
the terrible so-called “natural” disasters that have recently devastated so
many parts of the world, God’s chastisement of man’s rebellion against His
rule. (It will be objected that such disasters have always been. They
have, and for the very same reason: chastisement of man’s rebellion; but
man, deliberately oblivious of God’s existence, refuses to admit that these
phenomena are God’s wrathful response to man’s mutiny).
“And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in
a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.”
God had desired to make ruler amongst the nations, had forfeited that high
privilege by her disobedience, so that instead of being the governmental
center of the world, she had become like a hut or shelter in a vineyard, a
shed in a cucumber patch, or a city besieged by the armies of its enemies.
She had become a despised thing; but in her fallen state God would have us
see foreshadowed the fate of our present civilization in the impending Great
Tribulation, as described in Revelation chapters 14-18.
“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should
have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.”
Sodom meaning fettered, and Gomorrah meaning bondage, two
cities synonymous with sin, had been utterly destroyed, so that their
location is now unknown, it being mere surmise that their ruins may lie
under the waters of the Dead Sea. But for the Lord’s mercy in preserving a
small remnant of Israel they too would have vanished from the earth under
the merited judgment of God; and concerning the whole human race it is
equally true that “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not,” Lamentations 3:22. Did we receive our
just deserts we should all have been banished into hell.
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our
God, ye people of Gomorrah.”
Sodom and Gomorrah were fitting metaphors for an Israel whose depravity
was greater than theirs, for she sinned against light that hadn’t been given
them. The picture however, continues to be of today’s society, for sodomy,
which God has declared to be a capital offence, see Romans 1:32, is
practiced brazenly, and in many states has been legitimized by legalizing
the “marriages” of these vile perverts.
But all of
this points to the imminence of the Lord’s return to rapture His Church home
to heaven, an event that will be quickly followed by the terrible judgments
of the Great Tribulation. Lot was a citizen of Sodom, and relative to his
departure from that wicked city it is recorded that “the same day that Lot
went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed
them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is
revealed,” Luke 17:28-30. No student of Scripture will deny that Lot’s
departure from Sodom is a symbolic picture of the rapture of the Church.
“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the
Lord: I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed-beasts;
and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or lambs, or of he goats.”
It might have
been supposed that apostate Israel would long ago have abandoned the charade
of worshiping Jehovah, but she hadn’t; and it might be supposed that an
equally apostate professing church would also have discontinued the
Pharisaical sham which she calls worship, but she hasn’t.
“When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to
tread my courts?”
outraged God asked who had commanded them to come into His presence with
such offerings, when He had made it clear that He would accept only those
that had been prompted by obedient penitential love. Were not their ears
deaf to His voice, and their hearts ignorant of His character, apostate
Christendom would hear the same angry question.
“Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new
moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is
iniquity, even the solemn meeting.”
“vain” is used
here in the sense of being useless, worthless, evil; and “abomination” means
disgusting, abhorrent, repugnant.
“I cannot away
with” is better translated “I cannot endure iniquity; my soul abhors your
fasts and festivals; your special days, etc., disgust and anger Me.” He is
no less disgusted and angered by the travesty which Christendom calls
worship. Where, for example, can we find Scriptural authority for the
division of believers into two classes: clergy and laity; for the religious
titles and vestments of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism alike; the
magnificent buildings, paintings, statues, choirs, etc.? All of these are a
far cry from the Scriptural simplicity of the worship and service of the
first century believers, and are an abomination to God.
“Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble
unto me; I am weary to bear them.”
instructive to note that God describes them as your new moons,
feasts, etc. Israel had so corrupted them that God disowned them as being
of His appointment; and declared them all to be weariness rather than
worship in His sight. They had become a burden to Him. Can it be doubted
that He is any less wearied and disgusted with what Christendom calls
“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea,
when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”
the Jews customarily stretched out their arms palms up, symbolic of their
expectation that God would fill their hands, i.e., grant their petitions;
but He assured them that their hypocritical prayers would go unanswered: He
refused to even look upon them when they prayed. It was their custom too to
make many, i.e., long repetitious prayers, hoping that the length of their
prayers would induce God to give what they asked, but His attitute to such
prayer is recorded in the NT, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions,
as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much
speaking,” Matthew 6:7.
being “full of blood” may mean that they had actually committed murder, or
that they had caused suffering by refusing to minister to the needs others.
picture continues to be of Christendom, for what God condemned in Israel is
what abounds today in the lives of multitudes who call themselves
Christian. Their hypocrisy is no less abhorrent to God than was that of
“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine
eyes; cease to do evil;”
In the present
context washing and making clean are metaphors for repentant confession; and
their putting away the evil of their doings, and ceasing to do evil, are the
equivalent of their abandoning their sinful lifestyles, and the doing of
good rather than evil. He who would enjoy a right relationship with God
must do the same, a reformed lifestyle being the evidence of a genuine
conversion, as it is written in Matthew 7:20, “... by their fruits (deeds)
ye shall know them.”
“Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the
fatherless, plead for the widow.”
necessary for them to learn to do good, and seek judgment, i.e., act
justly towards others, reminds us that conversion introduces the believer to
a learning experience that is lifelong, as taught in Isaiah 28:9-10, “Whom
shall we teach knowledge? and whom shall we make to understand doctrine?
them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept
must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line;
here a little, and there a little,” the admonition being continued in the
NT, 1 Peter 2:1-2, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and
hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire
the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”
judgment” is also rendered, seek justice: make justice your aim: pursue
justice: set your hearts on justice.
the oppressed” is also translated, correct the oppressor: redress the
wronged: restrain violence: champion the oppressed: right the wrong.
“... judge the
fatherless” means vindicate the fatherless: hear the orphan’s plea:
defend the right of the orphan: protecting the orphan.
“... plead for
the widow,” is also rendered, defend the widow: champion the cause of the
widow: plead the widow’s cause: give the widow redress.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be
as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson,
they shall be as wool.”
unbelievable condescension on the part of God, that He, the Creator, should
be willing to reason or discuss the matter with the mutinous creature,
assuring the rebel that his sins which are as scarlet can be expiated, and
he translated into a state of perfect righteousness that enables him to
stand before God as though he had never sinned, his purity being pictured as
the whiteness of new-fallen snow, or as washed wool.
those who have undergone that supernatural transformation - should never
cease to thank God for the means by which that miracle has been made
possible: the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only
by virtue of His vicarious death, the shedding of His precious blood, that
the scarlet of sin can be transmuted into the whiteness of absolute purity.
Wycliffe Bible Commentary points out that “the crimson dye of the scarlet worm here referred
to was absolutely colorfast and indelible, nevertheless the grace of God was
able to cleanse them completely and restore them to the snowy whiteness of
“If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:”
equivalent of the literal abundance available to obedient Israel, is the
immeasurable profusion of the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ,
but it is to be noted that they are available only to the “willing and
obedient.” We must have the will to search out and gather up these riches,
for if no labor was required to possess them we would underestimate their
value, and the vacuum produced by idleness would soon be filled with
“But if ye refuse and
rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath
did rebel, and the warning was fulfilled, those who escaped the sword being
carried captive into Assyria in 701 BC, and again into Chaldea in 588-587
BC, those captivities being types of the coming terrible judgments that will
devastate the earth in the impending Great Tribulation, for Israel’s
rebellion and chastisement are foreshadowings of the present rebellion, not
only of professing Christendom, but of the whole world.
“How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment;
righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.”
meaning dual peace shall be taught: lay (set) ye double peace, had
sunk to unimaginable depths of wickedness. The city that had once been
synonymous with righteousness and impartial judgment had become a spiritual
harlot, and the dwelling place of murderers; but her most heinous crime was
still future in Isaiah’s day: the murder of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As has been
noted already however, Israel’s history is the symbolic foreshadowing of the
history of the world, and of the great harlot church located in Rome, and
wielding her evil spiritual tyranny over the lives of countless millions of
hapless dupes, her bejeweled hands dripping with the blood of myriads of
those she has tortured and killed for refusing to bow to her Satanic
tyranny. Nor should anyone be deceived by the pious mask she wears today.
She is the same murderous harlot as in the past, the only difference being
that since the days of Luther and the reformation she can no longer practice
her devilish villainy as blatantly as when she ruled both spiritually and
politically, and rendered account to no one.
But the evil
isn’t confined to the religious realm. Hidden behind the glittering facade
of the world’s political, financial, academic, scientific, and artistic
realms, lurks in the dark recesses of the evil spiritual web the malignant
controlling genius, Satan, the prince of darkness, the embodiment of
iniquity, but disguised as an angel of light, see 2 Corinthians 11:13-15,
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves
into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is
transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his
ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end
shall be according to their works.”
“Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:”
truth being proclaimed here transcends the literal, for silver is the
Scriptural symbol of salvation; and wine, of joy. Dross is defined as
waste matter taken off molten metal during smelting, essentially metallic in
character. It is here an apt symbol of the so called gospel preached
today in apostate Christendom, the essence of which is that if you do the
best you can, the sacrifice of Christ will make up the deficit, thus making
His death a mere minor adjunct to our own good works; but God’s warning is,
“We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy
rags,” Isaiah 64:6. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not
one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after
God. They have all gone out of the way, they are together become
unprofitable; there is not that doeth good, no, not one ... For all have
sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:10-23.
As for the
“wine mixed with water,” the truth being declared is that there is no true,
lasting joy apart from that possessed by the man who has the assurance of
heaven through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior. The watered
wine is a fitting symbol of the world’s joys: they afford no lasting
pleasure or satisfaction.
“Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth
gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither
doth the cause of the widow come unto them.”
were the rulers, and as God’s representatives they were responsible to
administer justice impartially, but they had rebelled against God, and had
become confederate with thieves, for they dispensed justice in favor of
those who could pay the highest bribes. They cared nothing about the widows
and orphans and the poor in general. Nor has anything changed. The same
chicanery still governs the operation of the world’s legal and political
systems. He who can pay the fee of the most astute attorney is usually sure
of obtaining a favorable verdict, while the poor man suffers the full
penalty of the law if he is guilty; or is denied justice when he seeks
redress in court.
“Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah,
I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:”
had exhausted God’s patience, and now He was about to enter into judgment
with her, nor would she be able to bribe her way out from under His just
sentence. The lesson being taught is that the only way to be justified in
His sight is to admit that we are guilty sinners, and see in the Lord Jesus
Christ the Savior Who has paid our debt by His Own precious blood, God’s
response to that confession and faith being to pardon all our sins, on the
perfectly just basis of Christ’s vicarious death, He having died the death
we deserved to die.
“And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and
take away all thy tin (alloy).”
the lesson that God’s chastisement is never vindictive. It is designed to
elicit the repentant confession that enables Him to pardon, and extend
blessing. Those who find themselves in the eternal torment of hell and the
lake of fire will be they who refused to make that confession on earth, the
realization coming too late, that it was refusal to confess that has made
them heirs of never-ending torment.
“And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at
the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness,
the faithful city.”
generally agreed that this refers to Israel’s millennial blessing.
“Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.”
There are two
senses in which Israel’s redemption here is to be viewed: first, for the
Israelite as well as the Gentile, it is the judgment borne by the Lord Jesus
Christ at Calvary that enables God to justly pardon the believer’s sin; and
“her converts” reminds us that the pardon is available only to “converts,”
i.e., those who judge themselves, and make honest confession of their sins,
and who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as the One who has died in their
guilty stead to expiate their sins, thus enabling God to pardon them, and
receive them into eternal bliss in His sinless heaven.
view is that of repentant Israel enjoying fulness of blessing on the
millennial earth, before passing into eternal bliss when the present heavens
and earth will have been replaced with new ones, and in which there will be
“And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be
together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.”
destruction does not mean annihilation, for Scripture does not teach
cessation of existence, but rather the consignment of the unrepentant to
everlasting torment in the lake of fire. Likewise their being consumed
doesn’t mean that they will cease to exist, but that their eternal
experience will be that of having to endure the awful indescribable pain of
an eternally burning fire.
forsake the Lord, i.e., fail to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior,
cannot begin to imagine what a dreadful thing it will be to be forsaken
eternally by God.
“For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall
be confounded for the gardens that he have chosen.”
who have worshiped carved images in their groves and sacred gardens, and in
the process have engaged in every form of sexual vileness, will realize the
enormity of their folly when it is too late for salvation. And so will it
be also with those of our modern world who abandon themselves to the
gratification of every fleshly lust in defiance of God’s commands.
“For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as gardens that hath no
This is the
description of the sinners mentioned in the preceding verses. Their
spiritually dead state is depicted under the figure of dead trees from which
the withered leaves fall, and by parched fruitless gardens. So is the life
of the man who ignores God, and who lives only to gratify the lusts of the
is the metaphoric picture of the godly man described in Psalm 1:1-4 “Blessed
is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly ... he shall be
like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in
his season; his leaf also shall not wither: and whatsoever he doeth shall
prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind
“And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they
shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.”
The strong one
here is the unbelieving natural self-sufficient man living in defiant
independence of God, in Whose sight he is simply as tow, which is the fiber
of flex, hemp, or jute prepared for spinning. It burns quickly, and can be
ignited easily by just a spark. It would be difficult to find a more
fitting picture of the unconverted man. The only thing between him and the
unquenchable fire of hell is the breath in his nostrils.